January 26th, 2020
1 Corinthians 1:10-18
Pastor Jenny Lee, Ph.D.
The Power of the Gospel
Until my age, 25, while my mother and my siblings believed in God, I did not so. As I mentioned before, I had a traffic accident and stayed in a hospital for about three years because my spine was broken. My doctor said to me, there is no hope for me to walk again properly. So, I was in the middle of depression because I lost hope. Can you imagine that? My age was just 25, I heard that I never walk again. I felt sentenced to death.
One day, my mother brought her pastor and church members to the hospital to pray for me and encouraged me to have hope. They wanted to worship God in front of me. But I did not allow them to worship God in the hospital room because I did not believe in God. They wanted to pray for me, at least because they wanted to help me. I looked at my mother. My mother seemed to like about to cry. So, I allowed them to pray for me because of my mother. After finished their prayer, the pastor’s wife said to me, “Sister, while we were praying for you, God gave me a spiritual mind. Please read this Bible in the hospital. If you read this entire Bible, you can walk again. This is God’s sign for you. God loves you.” And she gave me a book of the Bible. I felt that it was very thick, and it seemed to be hard to read it.
If you were in my shoes, what do you think of this situation? You may think that “this is the good news for me, thank you very much.” And you began to read it to walk again, right? However, I did not feel that way because I did not believe in God at that time. I threw the Bible away and said, “Please do not curse me.” I felt that it was the curse for me even though they brought the good news that I can walk again if I would read the Bible. It was an effortless way I can walk, not too hard surgery, not too hard treatment or therapy, but just read a book. But, for me, who did not believe in God, it felt like the curse. When I heard that at first, “Sister, if you read this Bible in the hospital, you can walk again,” I sensed her words, like a negative meaning. It was filtering through my negative mindset, “what? Does she mean I cannot walk for the whole of my life if I couldn’t read it?”
Sometimes we would go in a negative way rather than a positive way. Sometimes we would worry too much about what it does not happen yet. In the text of today, the Apostle Paul appeals to the congregation of the Corinthian Church, “brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.” What do you think when you hear this encouragement of the Apostle Paul? Some may think that there might be divisions in the congregation. Some believe that there are no divisions in our Lord Jesus Christ even there might be assumption. Which one comes to your account first? Is it the former or the latter? Whether which one comes to your mind first, both are right. However, according to which one we focus on, our thoughts move to there. While the former negatively leads us, the latter leads us to a positive way.
There were arguments in the Corinthian Church. They argued among one another, who the most excellent leader is. The Apostle Paul, by the grace of God, planted the Corinthian church at first. The city of Corinth was the development of commerce and trade, which was located at two big harbors in the east and the west side. There was a vast temple of Aphrodite, the goodness of war as well. The city of Corinth was rich but spiritually and physically corrupted at that time. The Apostle Paul stayed in the town for one and a half years to plant the church. Many people repented and came to church. After the Apostle Paul left, Apollos led them with the Bible study. If we may say that Paul was the great planter of the church, Apollos was a great teacher to nurture them. Cephas (Peter) was the great Apostle, who was taught by Jesus Christ directly.
Therefore, the Corinthian congregation knew that they are all great. The Corinthian members wanted to become like Paul, Apollos, and Peter. They argued that “I belong to Paul, I belong to Apollos.” The other says, “I belong to Cephas,” the other states, “No, No, it is not right. I only belong to Christ.” In fact, if we would follow the great heroes, it may not be wrong at all. However, the problem is that they did not follow what they learn, but that they argued only. Their arguments caused by their arrogance and jealousy. The Gospel is not in the debates. The Apostle Paul says the power of the Gospel is “not with eloquent wisdom so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power” (1 Cor. 1:17). The Gospel is real, which we have to live out in our daily lives.
The Baptist John sent his disciples to Jesus to ask if Jesus is real, the Lord, who he waited for when he was in prison. Jesus answered the people, who were sent by the Baptist John, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” (Matthew 11:4-6) For the Baptist John, who will be died very soon in prison, what was the good news? For him, the good news might be that Jesus Christ really comes to truth. Therefore, Jesus says, “Go and tell John what you hear and see” This was his wish to see the Messiah before he dies. Jesus Christ is the living power, which our infirmities are restored. The power of the Gospel is in our real lives to live out. Therefore, for the Gospel, we may say, “Go and tell what you see” Or “Come and see.” The power of the Gospel is the reality that we can see and experience.
There are many arguments about the future of the United Methodist Church come and out around us. Many arguments move around in social media. However, they are not all true. Please, remember the power of the Gospel is “not with eloquent wisdom so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.” We have to pray more than speak up at this moment. Please let us make less speak out, and more pray for it. Do not make any assumptions and arguments. Let us hold the power of the Gospel in Jesus Christ in our prayers. Please do remember, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John3:16). Our Lord God loves us, and God wants us saved. We gather to serve God in the sanctuary because we would give God our gratitude for the salvation. We are here in the same mind and the same purpose. No matters what happens in the future, our mission is to spread out the Gospel to transform into the world.
I often recalled when I was in the hospital. I am sure they brought the good news for me, who couldn’t walk. But I felt it was the curse because I did not believe in God. Finally, I spent two more years in the hospital after that. One day, God gave me the mind to read the Bible. I read the Bible in the hospital, and then I was released from the hospital, walking by myself. Jesus says that “blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me” (Matt. 11:6). In other words, if you do not disappoint in the Lord, the blessed is yours. I encourage you not to disappoint in the Lord whatever happens in front of you. Jesus died on the Cross to heal us our infirmities and save us from our sins and then resurrected from death. And he promised us he will be with us until the end of the world.
The Apostle Paul says, “For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). In other words, it means that “if you believe in the cross, the cross gives you the power of the Gospel in your life.” Please do believe the power of the Gospel in Christ with no worries, but with prayers so God may work for us.
Thanks be to God! Amen.